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  • The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) provides an extremely sensitive means of amplifying relatively large quantities of DNA

    First described in 1985, Nobel Prize for Kary Mullis in 1993

    The technique was made possible by the discovery of Taq polymerase, the DNA polymerase that is used by the bacterium Thermus aquaticus that was discovered in hot springs

    The primary materials, or reagents, used in PCR are:- DNA nucleotides, the building blocks for the new DNA - Template DNA, the DNA sequence that you want to amplify - Primers, single-stranded DNAs between 20 and 50 nucleotideslong (oligonucleotides) that are complementary to a shortregion on either side of the template DNA

    - DNA polymerase, a heat stable enzyme that drives, orcatalyzes, the synthesis of new DNA

    PCR

    The cycling reactions : There are three major steps in a PCR, which are repeated for 20 to 40 cycles. This is done on an automated Thermo Cycler, which can heat and cool the reaction tubes in a very short time. Denaturation at around 94C : During the denaturation, the double strand melts open to single stranded DNA, all enzymatic reactions stop (for example the extension from a previous cycle). Annealing at around 54C :Hydrogen bonds are constantly formed and broken between the single stranded primer and the single stranded template. If the primers exactly fit the template, the hydrogen bonds are so strong that the primer stays attached Extension at around 72C :The bases (complementary to the template) are coupled to the primer on the 3' side (the polymerase adds dNTP's from 5' to 3', reading the template from 3' to 5' side, bases are added complementary to the template)

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

  • PCR

    The different steps of PCR

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

    PCR

    Exponential increase of the number of copies during PCR

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

  • PCR

    Every cycle results in a doubling of the number of strands DNA present

    After the first few cycles, most of the product DNA strands madeare the same length as the distance between the primers

    The result is a dramatic amplification of a the DNA that exists between the primers. The amount of amplification is 2 raised to the n power; n represents the number of cycles that are performed. After 20 cycles, this would give approximately 1 million fold amplification. After 40 cycles the amplification would be 1 x 1012PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

    Verification of PCR product

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

  • PCR and Contamination

    The most important consideration in PCR is contamination

    Even the smallest contamination with DNA could affect amplification

    For example, if a technician in a crime lab set up a test reaction (with blood from the crime scene) after setting up a positive control reaction (with blood from the suspect) cross contamination between the samples could result in an erroneous incrimination, even if the technician changed pipette tips between samples. A few blood cells could volitilize in the pipette, stick to the plastic of the pipette, and then get ejected into the test sample

    Modern labs take account of this fact and devote tremendous effort to avoiding cross-contamination

    Optimizing PCR protocols

    While PCR is a very powerful technique, often enough it is not possible to achieve optimum results without optimizing the protocol

    Critical PCR parameters:

    - Concentration of DNA template, nucleotides, divalent cations (especially Mg2+) and polymerase

    - Error rate of the polymerase (Taq, Vent exo, Pfu)

    - Primer design

    PCR can be very tricky

  • Primer design

    General notes on primer design in PCR

    Perhaps the most critical parameter for successful PCR is the design of primersPrimer selectionCritical variables are: - primer length - melting temperature (Tm) - specificity - complementary primer sequences - G/C content- 3-end sequence

    Primer length

    - specificity and the temperature of annealing are atleast partly dependent on primer length

    - oligonucleotides between 20 and 30 (50) bases are highly sequence specific- primer length is proportional to annealing efficiency: in general, the longer the primer, the more inefficient the annealing

    - the primers should not be too short as specificity decreases

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

    Primer designSpecificity

    Primer specificity is at least partly dependent on primer length: there are many moreunique 24 base oligos than there are 15 base pair oligos

    Probability that a sequence of length n will occur randomly in a sequence of length m is:

    Example: the mtDNA genome has about 20,000 bases, the probabilityof randomly finding sequences of length n is:

    n Pn5 19.52

    10 1.91 x 10-215 1.86 x 10-5

    P = (m n +1) x ()n

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

  • Primer design

    Complementary primer sequences- primers need to be designed with absolutely no intra-primer homology beyond 3 base

    pairs. If a primer has such a region of self-homology, snap back can occur- another related danger is inter-primer homology: partial homology in the middle

    regions of two primers can interfere with hybridization. If the homology should occurat the 3' end of either primer, primer dimer formation will occur

    G/C content- ideally a primer should have a near random mix of nucleotides, a 50% GC content- there should be no PolyG or PolyC stretches that can promote non-specific annealing

    3-end sequence- the 3' terminal position in PCR primers is essential for the control of mis-priming- inclusion of a G or C residue at the 3' end of primers helps to ensure correct binding

    (stronger hydrogen bonding of G/C residues)

    Primer designMelting temperature (Tm)

    - the relationship between annealing temperature and meltingtemperature is one of the Black Boxes of PCR

    - a general rule-of-thumb is to use an annealing temperature that is 5C lowerthan the melting temperature

    - the goal should be to design a primer with an annealing temperature of at least 50C

    - the melting temperatures of oligos are most accurately calculated using nearest neighbor thermodynamic calculations with the formula:

    Tm = H [S+ R ln (c/4)] 273.15 C + 16.6 log 10 [K+](H is the enthalpy, S is the entropy for helix formation, R is the molar gasconstant and c is the concentration of primer)

    - a good working approximation of this value can be calculated using the Wallaceformula:

    Tm = 4x (#C+#G) + 2x (#A+#T) C- both of the primers should be designed such that they have similar melting temperatures.

    If primers are mismatched in terms of Tm, amplification will be less efficient or may not work: the primer with the higher Tm will mis-prime at lower temperatures; the primer withthe lower Tm may not work at higher temperatures.

  • DNA Sequencing

    Sequencing methods

    - The process of determining the order of the nucleotide bases along aDNA strand is called DNA sequencing

    - In 1977 two separate methods for sequencing DNA were developed:the chain termination method or cycle sequencing (Sanger et al.)and the chemical degradation method or Maxam-Gilbert sequencing(Maxam and Gilbert)

    - Both methods were equally popular to begin with, but, for manyreasons, the cycle sequencing method is the method more commonlyused today

    - This method is based on the principle that single-stranded DNAmolecules that differ in length by just a single nucleotide can beseparated from one another using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

    Cycle Sequencing

    Concept: If we know the distance of each type of base from a known origin,then it is possible to deduce the sequence of the DNA.

    For example, if we knew that there was an:

    A at positions 2, 3, 11, 13 ... andG at positions 1, 12, ... andC at positions 6, 7, 8, 10, 15... andT at positions 4, 5, 9, 14....

    then we can reconstruct the sequence

    Obtaining this information is conceptually quite simple. The idea is to cause a termination of a growing DNA chain at a known base (A,G,C or T) and at a known location in the DNA

    In practice, chain termination is caused by the inclusion of a small amount of a single dideoxynucleotide base in the mixture of all four normal bases (e.g. dATP, dTTP, dCTP, dGTP and ddATP). The small amount of ddATP would cause chain termination whenever it would be incorporated into the DNA. The incorporation of ddATP would be random and thus all possible chains that end in 'A' will exist.

  • DNA Sequencing

    The different steps in cycle sequencing

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

    DNA Sequencing

    Cycle sequencingchain termination

    Taken from:http://www.mbio.ncsu.edu/JWB/MB409/lecture/lecture04/lecture04.html

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

  • DNA Sequencing

    The separation of the sequencing fragments

    To measure the sizes of the fragments, each of the four reactions would be loaded into a separate well on a gel, and the fragments would be separated by gel electrophoresis

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

    DNA Sequencing

    Sequencing systems

    PCR

    DNA sequencing

    Microarrays

    Mass-spec

    LICOR DNA 4300

    ABI 3100

  • DNA Sequencing

    Snapshots of the detection of the fragments on the sequencer

    four-dye system single-dye system

    PCR

    DNA s

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